Planned Obselescence....A Good Thing?

In my opinon...no.
I intentionally try to have older appliances, vehicles, machines to lower repair costs and keep overall ownership cost to a minimum.
Your thoughts?
TMT
Irreparable damageBy Bryce Baschuk THE WASHINGTON TIMES January 9, 2007 Bill Jones, after 42 years, is finally closing the Procter Appliance Service shop in Silver Spring. "You can't make a good salary to survive on the way you could years ago," said the 61-year-old owner of the oven, refrigerator and washer-dryer repair shop. "Everything has changed in the appliance business." Mr. Jones recently sold his home in Laurel and is in the process of moving to Bluffton, S.C., with his wife, Jeannette. Mr. Jones is one of the many Washington-area repairmen who have struggled to stay afloat as residents replace, not repair, old appliances. "It's a dying trade," said Scott Brown, Webmaster of www.fixitnow.com and self-proclaimed "Samurai Appliance Repairman." The reason for this is twofold, Mr. Brown said: The cost of appliances is coming down because of cheap overseas labor and improved manufacturing techniques, and repairmen are literally dying off. The average age of appliance technicians is 42, and there are few young repairmen to take their place, said Mr. Brown, 47. He has been repairing appliances in New Hampshire for the past 13 years. In the next seven years, the number of veteran appliance repairmen will decrease nationwide as current workers retire or transfer to other occupations, the Department of Labor said in its 2007 Occupational Outlook Handbook. The federal agency said many prospective repairmen prefer work that is less strenuous and want more comfortable working conditions. Local repairmen said it is simply a question of economics. "Nowadays appliances are cheap, so people are just getting new ones," said Paul Singh, a manager at the Appliance Service Depot, a repair shop in Northwest. "As a result, business has slowed down a lot." "The average repair cost for a household appliance is $50 to $350," said Shahid Rana, a service technician at Rana Refrigeration, a repair shop in Capitol Heights. "If the repair is going to cost more than that, we usually tell the customer to go out and buy a new one." It's not uncommon for today's repairmen to condemn an appliance instead of fixing it for the sake of their customers' wallets. If they decide to repair an appliance that is likely to break down again, repairmen are criticized by their customers and often lose business because of a damaged reputation. Mr. Jones said he based his repair decisions on the 50 percent rule: "If the cost of service costs more than 50 percent of the price of a new machine, I'll tell my customers to get a new one." "A lot of customers want me to be honest with them, so I'll tell them my opinion and leave the decision making up to them," he said. In recent years, consumers have tended to buy new appliances when existing warranties expire rather than repair old appliances, the Department of Labor said. Mr. Brown acknowledged this trend. "Lower-end appliances which you can buy for $200 to $300 are basically throwaway appliances," he said. "They are so inexpensive that you shouldn't pay to get them repaired." "The quality of the materials that are being made aren't lasting," Mr. Jones said. "Nowadays you're seeing more plastic and more circuit boards, and they aren't holding up." Many home appliances sold in the United States are made in Taiwan, Singapore, China and Mexico. "Nothing is made [in the United States] anymore," Mr. Jones said. "But then again, American parts are only better to a point, a lot of U.S. companies are all about the dollar." Fortunately for the next generation of repairmen, some of today's high-end appliances make service repairs the most cost-effective option. The Department of Labor concurred. "Over the next decade, as more consumers purchase higher-priced appliances designed to have much longer lives, they will be more likely to use repair services than to purchase new appliances," said the 2007 Occupational Outlook Handbook. Modern, energy-efficient refrigerators can cost as much as $5,000 to $10,000, and with such a hefty price tag, throwing one away is not an option. In some cases, repairmen can help consumers reduce the amount of aggravation that a broken appliance will cause. Consider the time and effort it takes to shop for a new appliance, wait for its delivery, remove the old one and get the new one installed. In addition, certain appliances such as ovens and washing machines can be a bigger hassle to replace because they are connected to gas and water lines. "It takes your time, it takes your effort, and if you don't install the new appliance, you'll have to hire a service technician to install it anyways," Mr. Brown said. Some consumers bond with their appliances like old pets, and for loyalty or sentimental reasons, refuse to let them go. Mr. Rana said some of his clients have appliances that are more than 30 years old. It makes sense, he said. "A lot of old refrigerators are worth fixing because they give people good service. They just don't make things like they used to."
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Too_Many_Tools wrote:

This raises an apparent contradiction. Most people believe that appliances were built much better in the past than they are now and yet in the past a whole industry survived on doing appliance repairs. Perhaps they only seemed to be built better in the past because we kept them longer and the only reason we kept them longer is because we repaired them instead of replacing them. The flipside of that same coin is that perhaps today's appliances only seem to be inferior because we replace them more often and the only reason we replace them more often is because we don't repair them.
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Perhaps you've not been adequately involved with your appliances to see that there is not a contradiction, even "apparently".
The old ones were, for the most part, designed to be repairable. "This part always breaks eventually, we'll isolate it and make it easy to replace".
The new ones are, for the most part, designed NOT to be repairable, and/or parts prices/availability are manipulated to render them effectively non-economic to repair. "This part will (by design) break about 1 year after the warranty runs out - let's put in in a monolithic module containing all the most expensive parts of the machine." The appliance industry would much rather sell you a new one than have you fix the old one, and they have taken steps to ensure that only the maddest of mad hatters will stubbornly stick to repair; and when they do, the industry will still profit mightily due to inflated pricing. But not making the parts at all will knock even the mad hatters into line soon enough, so long as they keep all the parts adequately non-standard that it's not economic for anyone to second-source them.
The same logic is driving the production of hybrid cars that are less fuel efficient than some non-hybrid cars. When the battery pack dies in 8-10 years, the car will be junk (non-economic to repair), clearing the way for more new car sales.
--
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

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Ecnerwal wrote: In part ..................

Maybe that's stating it rather strongly?
Although recent discussion/discovery that IPods will exhaust their batteries in approximately one to two years do clearly raise the question? "Designed to fail?".
But it's the same reason that I continue to accept and use old appliances that I can repair myself. For example I refuse to buy a stove that incorporates a digital timer/clock; they are virtually unrepairable! Eventually can see myself, however, ending up with one of those and deliberately disconnecting the digital timer clock or modifying the stove to use one my older (saved) clock/timers or just dong away with the timer altogether.
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terry wrote:

I think another big factor is the ratio of cost on parts versus labor. In the "old days" you might have a repair that was 70% parts and 30% labor cost-wise. Nowdays those percentages would be reversed and that just irks people who just don't see the value of anyone's labor (other than their own of course).
You see posts about this all the time. "Called a guy to come out and do foo and couldn't believe what he wanted to charge me!" Labor really induces a lot of sticker shock these days.
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Yep, and thats inevitable when first world wages are involved with repair and the alternative is some microwage monkey in an asian factory minimally involved in stamping out a new one hours wise.
Even just the travel time for the repair is vastly more than any asian ever puts into making you a new one.
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I can ony agree with most of the posters who have stated that labor to repair appliances has gone up approx, tenfold in the last 35 years, while a lot of the cost of new ones is about the same in a lot of cases, and 1/10 as much in some cases. While newer cars do cost megabucks to fix when something does break, it is far less of of an accomplishment to get over 200K mles on one than it was to get 100K on one from the good old days. People have forgotten that back then 30K on a set of tires was average, 2 years on a muffler and tail pipe if the car was driven on the highway, a year or less if start and stop city driving. In coastal areas, or where roads are salted, 2 y/o cars with holes rusted in them were not uncommon. We thought my first car-- a 1959 in 1967-- was ancient. That would be the same age as a 99 model now. Back then, the goal of the auto mfgs was to change the styling enough every year to make them look dated and out of style after 2 or3 years-- as soon as they were paid off. THAT is planned obsolescence. The appliance mfgs saw that(and in some cases were the same-- GM/Frigidaire,,Ford/Philco, Nash/Kelvinator ect) and tried the same thing with appliances-- wild colors, 2 and even 3 tones, even wild shapes and styles of fridges, washers and dryers and stoves. Stainless is the hot thing for appliances now, with, for the most part, white and black as the other choices. Somehow I don't think that 15 or 20 years from now they, or even the almond, sand and other colors that were popular a few years ago, will look quite as dated as the turquoise, pink, avocado or harvest gold did. (I left out coppertone because I thought it was actually pretty good looking lol ) One thing I actually wonder is how the mfgs of some of the new appliances even make enough to be profitable. Even though labor is in China or some third world country, and is a very small percentage of the cost, they can't make much on a $39 microwave or vcr, or a $69 window a/c, when you add the raw materials,shipping to the US and then to the final destination, warehousing, the profit the retailer has to make, advertising, at least some warranty expenses etc. BTW, while the new cars are far more fuel efficient, safer, and more comfortable than those of the past, I seriously doubt that in 2057, a 2007 Chevy or other car will be as prized as a 1957 is now. Cars back then were exciting, while now,to me anyway, they are little boxes that all look alike. Good transportation--period. Larry
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Konichiwa, my friends. Samurai Appliance Repair Man here. With all the lively discussion the Washington Time article generated here, I thought y'all might be interested in seeing my take on it.
http://fixitnow.com/wp/2007/01/11/latest-trends-in-appliance-repair /
Peace,
Samurai Appliance Repair Man www.fixitnow.com
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On Sun, 14 Jan 2007 17:59:14 -0600, Alan snipped-for-privacy@visi.com wrote:

When I bought this house, there was a problem with the built-in oven (an older Frigidaire). The (mechanical) clock (that I didn't need) wouldn't keep time but made a loud UHH-UHH-UHH noise all the time. I disconnected the wire to it, something I would never have been able to do with a modern oven.
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
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Over the years, I think I've bought five battery operated drills.
No... they don't break or wear out.
It's cheaper to buy a new drill than a replacement battery.
<rj>
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Not necessarily WHERE to cut costs, but bean counters most definitely tell the manufacturing folks TO cut costs. In a lot of cases, the bean counters RUN the corporation.
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On Mon, 15 Jan 2007 00:04:40 -0600, Ignoramus4939

It can also be a bit profitable. I've picked up 4 microwaves from the trash that I "repaired" by replacing a blown fuse.
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Remember "Nobody will ever need more than 640k of ram"? Now I've got 2 meg and wish I had 4. 1st hard drive - 80mb, $800.00 current HD - 350mb, $120.00
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snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net says...

I think you understated both of those by a factor of 1,000. You wish you had 4 gig of RAM, not 4 meg, and your current $120 hard drive is more likely 350gb, not 350mb. Times have changed more than you consciously realized.
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David Starr wrote: ...

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